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"Blessed is he that cometh in the Science of Wisdom." ~Phineas Parkhurst Quimby

March 2, 2014


    Chapter XVI of The Quimby Manuscripts by Horatio W. Dresser

Dr. Quimby is so greatly interested in calling attention to the power of human beliefs in relation to all man’s troubles that he does not give much space to a description of the natural world, does not state his idea of matter very definitely, and often leaves the reader wondering how he distinguishes between matter and “spiritual matter” or the mind of opinions. He is especially interested to point out that matter can be “condensed into a solid by mind action,” that it undergoes a “chemical change” as a result of mental changes. He sometimes speaks of it as an “error” or shadow, as “an idea seen or not, just as it is called out.” Whatever its objective reality in the Divine purpose, matter in itself is inanimate, there is no intelligence in it. His view of matter is idealistic, therefore, and in considering his theory of disease and its cure we need to bear in mind that matter for him is plastic to thought. The ordinary or external mind which is “spiritual matter” is the intermediate term. Above this mind is the real man with his spiritual senses, his clairvoyant and intuitive powers. The final term is Wisdom, making known its truths in so far as there is responsiveness and intelligence on man’s part. This is said to possess a real “identity.” To find himself as an “identity” in every truth, man should know himself as the “scientific man,” able through Wisdom’s help to banish all errors from the world.” ~Horatio W. Dresser


I BELIEVE now that the time has nearly arrived when the people will be prepared to receive a great truth that will give an impulse and set them investigating a subject which will open to their minds new and enlarged ideas of themselves and show man what he is and how he makes himself what he is. It has been said that to know himself is the greatest study of man, but I say that for man to know his error is greater than to know himself; for every person is to himself just what he think he is, but to know his error1 is what ought to be his greatest study. For the last twenty–five years2 I have been trying to find out what man is and at last have come to know what he is not. To know that you exist is nothing, but to know what disturbs you is of great value to every person. The world has been developing itself, and we look on and never think it is ourselves. Through ignorance of Wisdom we have made a man of straw and given him life, intellect and a head in the image of our own creation. To this image we have given the idea “man” with certain capacities such as life and death, and have made him subject to evils such as disease. To the man of straw the words I have quoted are applied. This man of straw has been trying to find himself out and in doing this has nearly destroyed or blotted out his real existence. So in looking for man I found it was like the old lady looking for her comb and finding it in her hair. I found I was the very idea I was looking for. Then I knew myself and found that what we call man is not man but a shadow of error.

1 That is, his bondage to opinion, his mistaken view of his body, and its supposed tendencies to disease.
2 This was written in 1865.

Wisdom is the true man and error the counterfeit. When Wisdom governs matter all goes well, but when error directs all goes wrong. So I shall assume the old mode of calling man as he is called and make myself a principle outside of man, just as man makes all “laws of God,” as he calls them outside of himself. So man admits he is not with God or a part of Him. Therefore he belongs to this world and expects to die and go to his God. So he lives all his life in bondage through fear of death. Now, this keeps him sick and to avoid all these fears and troubles that disturb his mind and make him sick he invents all sorts of false ideas and never thinks they are the cause of his misery. He invents all sorts of disease to torment himself. Standing outside of these ideas I know that they are the works of man; that God or wisdom has never made anything to torment mankind. Error has created its own misery.

Having had twenty–five years of practice I have seen the working of this evil on mankind, how it has grown till it is increasing and at the present time there is more misery from disease than all other evils put together, and every effort to arrest this evil only makes it worse. Within the last seven years I have sat with more than twelve thousand different persons and have taken their feelings and know what they believe their diseases were and how each person was affected, but I knew the causes. Therefore I know what I say is true that if there had never been a physician in the world there would not have been one–tenth of the suffering. It is also true that religious creeds have made a very large class of persons miserable, but religion like all creeds based on superstition must give way to Science. So superstition in regard to religion will die out as men grow wise, for wisdom is all the religion that can stand and this is to know ourselves not as man but as a part of Wisdom. But disease is making havoc among all classes, and it seems as though there would never be an end of it unless some one should step in and check this greatest of evils.

I have been in the habit of sitting with patients separately and explaining the disease and the cure till I have come to the conclusion that I can cure persons that are sick if I am in their company, and the number only helps to hasten the cure. I have no doubt that I can go to an audience of one thousand persons and cure more persons in one lecture than can be cured by all the doctors in the state of Maine in the same time, for I know that one–half my patients I do not see as long as to explain what I should make clear in one lecture of two hours. There are a great number of sick who are not able to be cured; for man’s life and happiness in this enlightened world (made so by the profession) has made dollars and cents the test, so if a man has not these he must suffer. So my object is to relieve man of some of his sufferings. I am sent for to go to different parts of the country and have always found a large class of poor sick persons not ready to be cured. I want to relieve those who are not able to be cured, and also give directions to minds so that this wisdom shall govern man. It is necessary to say that I have no religious belief. My religion is my life, and my life is the light of any wisdom that I have. So that my light is my eye, and if my eye is the eye of Truth my body is light, but if my eye or wisdom is an opinion my body is full of darkness.

[This is the first installment of a twelve–part series originally written and published as Chapter XVI. DISEASE AND HEALING, of The Quimby Manuscripts by Horatio W. Dresser. THOMAS Y. CROWELL COMPANY, 1921.—editor.]

Quotation by Phineas Parkhurst Quimby

Phineas Parkhurst Quimby: His Complete Writings and Beyond

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Editor’s Corner

Today we begin a twelve–part serial review of Chapter 16, DISEASE AND HEALING, of the 1921 publication, of The Quimby Manuscripts by Horatio W. Dresser.

In Wisdom, Love, and Light,
Ron Hughes

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